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Year in review:�Events that shaped Custer County

Published: Thursday, December 27th, 2012

A dedication was held with a packed house for the $4.1 million new courthouse renovation March 20.

 

This is the first part of a look back at the events and people that shaped Custer County in 2012.
January
Dave Ressler, executive director of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, was selected as the Custer County Chronicle’s Citizen of the Year for 2011.
Shopko and Pamida announced a merger, creating one of the largest U.S. retailers focused on serving smaller and rural communities.
Steve Keegan was recognized as the Custer Volunteer Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year.
The former Custer County Sheriff’s Department building on south 5th Street was razed, as the sheriff’s department was relocated as part of the courthouse expansion and renovation.
The Custer Cruisin’ Committee voted to move all the Cruisin’ vendors from 6th Street to 7th Street, next to the post office and Leroy Motel.
The Custer County Commission voted to spend $180,000 out of reserve funds to purchase five new vehicles for the Custer County Sheriff’s Department.
Custer broke temperature records two days in early January,  including Wednesday, Jan. 4, when the temperature climbed to 52, breaking the previous record of 49 set in 2001. The next day, Custer again set a new record when the temperature reached 58, up six degrees from the old record of 52, also set in 2001.
Former South Dakota Attorney General, Governor and Congressman Bill Janklow died at the age of 72.
The Custer School District Board of Education was looking to cut $200,000 from the general fund in the 2012-13 budget as a alternative to relying on Impact Aid money from the state.
Paul Doering filed a plea agreement in federal court stating that after the 2011 Hill City shootout incident, in which he fired four live rounds during an Old West reenactment, he tampered with the evidence by attempting to hide his guns and ammunition from investigators. He faced up to 20 years in prison on the charges.
The South Dakota National Guard 82nd Civil Support Team (CST) successfully completed a rescue exercise at Jewel Cave National Monument. The CST, in addition to local responders, responded to a mock set-up which involved an emergency response to hazardous material and a mock rescue.
The Custer County Commission voted to no longer accept mail from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) after receiving a flood of apocalyptic-like mailings from the religious sect.
Brad Keizer was hired as the new 4-H Youth Program advisor for Fall River and Custer counties. He began his duties Jan. 9.
The Custer High School wrestling team won its first conference championship in 38 years with a 51-27 dual win over the Douglas Patriots.
February
Steve Baldwin, Freda Goodsell, Colleen Hennessy and Frank Leal were honored as part of the annual “Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song,”â��in which the honorees share their backgrounds and lives with children, who then make songs about the elders and sing them at a concert.
A wolf was killed near Custer, but officials weren’t saying where the wolf was killed, how it was killed or who killed it.
The Custer School District was looking at the prospect of having another deficit of $1 million as it began budget preparations for the coming year.
Concerned with losing business to Hill City, Hot Springs and Rapid City, a handful of Custer business owners spoke to the Custer City Council, asking for some relief—even if only temporary—from the city’s 10 percent markup on alcohol businesses with alcohol operating agreements with the city.
Custer High School principal Paul Anderson informed the Custer School District Board of Education the district was not in compliance with Title IX during the 2011-12 school year, as female participation in sports had dropped since the previous year.
Chasen Cole placed eighth in the 120-pound weight class at the South Dakota Class B State Wrestling Tournament.
Mary Bowen was named Custer VFW’s Teacher of the Year for the Custer School District.
Russell Behlings of Custer, along with partner Aaron Warner, placed first in the Western Regional Qualifying Tournament for the National Guard FLWâ��College Bass Fishing Series in Lake Havasu, Ariz. 
March
Custer City Council voted 5-1 to move vendors off N. 6th Street during Custer Cruisin’. The vendors were to be located on S. 6th St., between Mt. Rushmore Road and Washington Street, including some in the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce parking lot. A survey done by the chamber revealed city business owners wanted vendors to remain part of Custer Cruisin’ and not be moved off 6th Street.
The first year of a study of Custer State Park’s elk herd revealed that the reason for the dramatic decline in the herd’s population was caused primarily by mountain lion predation.
It was revealed Custer County had marked over 60,000 trees infested by the mountain pine beetle during the winter.
Federal Aviation Administration officials told Custer County officials they had no problem with the location of Southern Hills Tactical’s gun range near the Custer County Airport. Neighbors in the area had complained about the location of the range.
It was a packed house for the official dedication of the $4.1 million Custer County Courthouse addition March 20. Master of ceremonies and Custer County Commissioner Dave Hazeltine welcomed the crowd and introduced Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Jeff Davis. The judge gave a brief history of the courthouse and some of the colorful Custer County characters.
An especially dry spring led both the Custer County Commission and Custer City Council to institute fire bans, and also led to two small fires in the area.
The Apple Fire torched 546 acres of mostly Forest Service land before being contained after four days. The fire burned three miles southeast of Custer near Cicero Peak.
The Custer Cruisin’ Committee unanimously voted to give vendors a discount ranging from 10 to 30 percent due to the delayed response of applications and for the changing of vendor sites.
The Custer School District Board of Education voted to merge the middle school, cut over a dozen positions, reduce contracts and services and cut the soccer program as part of budget cuts due to an ongoing budget shortfall.
Jody Tennyson of Custer was one of the $10,000 winners in the March 30 drawing of Mega Millions. The jackpot reached a record $656 million. Tennyson bought her winning ticket at Big D.
April
The Custer County Commission was considering asking the city for more money when the city renewed its contract with the county for law enforcement services from the Custer County Sheriff’s Department.
Chad Bryant was named third-team All-State in Class A�Basketball.
Jake Harris-Raver, 18, was the final defendant sentenced in the “Operation Pharm School” drug bust that took place in February 2011.
The Custer High School prom was held at Crazy Horse Memorial, with the theme of “Footloose.”
A mountain lion killed a house cat in downtown Custer, crossing Mt. Rushmore Road near Custer True Value to do so.
The Custer Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Lunafest film festival and wellness fair at Custer High School. The mission of the Custer Lunafest was to promote awareness of local organizations that give women a voice, support and empowerment opportunities in all aspects of their life.
Custer High School senior Tyler Schultz broke the all-time South Dakota state shot put record with a throw of 69-5 3/4 at the Custer Invitational track meet. The throw beat the old record by 2-3/4 inches.
The Custer County Chronicle won both the General Excellence Award and the Sweepstakes Award as the most award-winning newspaper in its class at the annual South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. In addition, Custer County Chronicle publisher publisher Charley Najacht was voted SDNAâ��president.
May
Four conservation groups filed a petition with the U.S. Interior Department to list the black-backed woodpecker under the Endangered Species Act in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, the Sierra Nevada and Oregon’s Eastern Cascades. If successful, the petition could mean limited logging in post-fire and pine beetle habitat in the Black Hills National Forest.
A lightning strike was blamed for starting a fire that leveled a home outside of Hermosa. No one was at home at the time of the fire.
Jolene Bush was selected as the Custer School District’s Teacher of the Year.
The superintendents of Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park announced the two parks would cooperate in management of elk that use the parks. The parks share a common fence that restricts movement of elk between the two areas. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the parks would install drop-down gates along the fence to allow elk to travel between the two parks.
Officials from the city, county and emergency services held a mock disaster exercise to prepare for a potential catastrophic fire in the Black Elk Wilderness Area.
“Freshman Impact: Caught in the Moment” was held at Custer High School. The day was filled with demonstrations and interactive activities that exposed students to the risks of impaired driving. The day ended with a mock accident, complete with a trial at the end of it.
The annual Custer Area Chamber of Commerce Spring Fling was held at the Game Lodge in Custer State Park. Winners included Trinity Rapp of Mt. Rushmore Telephone Co. for outstanding customer service, LaVonne Horn for Volunteer of the Year, Terri Flores for Outstanding Customer Service, Julie Brazell of Custer State Park for Extra Mile, Kelly Miller of Highmark Federal Credit Union for Extra Mile, Cheryl Schrier of Mount Rushmore for Extra Mile and Fred Baumann of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Customer Service.
Fifty-eight seniors graduated from Custer High School as the Class of 2012.
The Custer School District Board of Education was considering eliminating the position of rural school principal as part of the district’s ongoing budget cuts.
The Custer High School boys track team won the Black Hills Conference championship.
Custer City became an official “Tree City USA” and celebrated with a series of tree plantings around town.
Schultz led the Wildcat boys track team to the Region 8A team championship, and broke his own state record in the shot put with a throw of 70 feet, six inches.
The Custer County State’s Attorney’s office announced indictments were unsealed and arrest warrants issued for Henry J. Martens Jr, 27; and Timothy J. Burke, 46; both of Keystone, for two counts each of Hunting Big Game Without a License. The charges stemmed from the alleged illegal taking of two bull elk in Wind Cave National Park Jan. 30.
The Grand Magic Show debuted in Custer, with the show being performed for Custer business owners, employees and families.
The Custer High School boys track team placed second at the Class A State track meet, getting first place finishes from Schultz in the shot put and discus, Brennan Witt in the 800 and Clayton Wahlstrom in the pole vault. The girls team placed sixth, with championships from its medley relay team and Karley Konkol, who won both the 800 and 1600 on her way to being named the outstanding female athlete at the meet.
The 27th annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch took place under sunny skies, with a two-day turnout of 11,622 people, the largest turnout in over three years.
Sen. John Thune held a town hall meeting at the Custer Volunteer Fire Department, giving an overview of the financial situation in the U.S. and fielding questions from the audience.
June
A massive hailstorm hit Custer County, with pea-sized to tennis-ball-sized hail falling around Custer. The storm caused minor flooding and a great deal of damage, mostly just west of Custer.
The Custer Granite opened its 2012 season on its new home field with a pair of wins over Chadron, Neb., a team it had not defeated since its inception, a string of over 20 losses.
Tourism officials and local business owners reported a great start to the tourism season, with businesses reporting being up anywhere from 30 to over 100 percent compared to a year ago.
The South Dakota National Guard’s 28th annual Golden Coyote training exercise took place in Rapid City and the Southern Black Hills, with more than 2,200 service members participating from across the country and the world. 
It was learned that the city could spend up to $1 million on renovating the site the Custer City Center sits on.
A straight line wind hit Pringle during a thunderstorm, lifting the roof off a pole barn, uprooting trees and causing other damage. The wind was estimated to have been over 100 mph.
A 6- to 7-month-old emaciated mountain lion was killed in town. It was suspected the lion is the same one that killed a house cat in town in April.
A number of fires sprang up around Custer late in the month, including the White Draw Fire near Edgemont and the Highlands Fire in the Custer Highlands area. A C-130 plane based out of North Carolina that was fighting the White Draw Fire crashed, killing four of the crew members.

This is the first part of a look back at the events and people that shaped Custer County in 2012.

January

Dave Ressler, executive director of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce, was selected as the Custer County Chronicle’s Citizen of the Year for 2011.

Shopko and Pamida announced a merger, creating one of the largest U.S. retailers focused on serving smaller and rural communities.

Steve Keegan was recognized as the Custer Volunteer Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year.

The former Custer County Sheriff’s Department building on south 5th Street was razed, as the sheriff’s department was relocated as part of the courthouse expansion and renovation.

The Custer Cruisin’ Committee voted to move all the Cruisin’ vendors from 6th Street to 7th Street, next to the post office and Leroy Motel.

The Custer County Commission voted to spend $180,000 out of reserve funds to purchase five new vehicles for the Custer County Sheriff’s Department.

Custer broke temperature records two days in early January,  including Wednesday, Jan. 4, when the temperature climbed to 52, breaking the previous record of 49 set in 2001. The next day, Custer again set a new record when the temperature reached 58, up six degrees from the old record of 52, also set in 2001.

Former South Dakota Attorney General, Governor and Congressman Bill Janklow died at the age of 72.

The Custer School District Board of Education was looking to cut $200,000 from the general fund in the 2012-13 budget as a alternative to relying on Impact Aid money from the state.

Paul Doering filed a plea agreement in federal court stating that after the 2011 Hill City shootout incident, in which he fired four live rounds during an Old West reenactment, he tampered with the evidence by attempting to hide his guns and ammunition from investigators. He faced up to 20 years in prison on the charges.

The South Dakota National Guard 82nd Civil Support Team (CST) successfully completed a rescue exercise at Jewel Cave National Monument. The CST, in addition to local responders, responded to a mock set-up which involved an emergency response to hazardous material and a mock rescue.

The Custer County Commission voted to no longer accept mail from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) after receiving a flood of apocalyptic-like mailings from the religious sect.

Brad Keizer was hired as the new 4-H Youth Program advisor for Fall River and Custer counties. He began his duties Jan. 9.

The Custer High School wrestling team won its first conference championship in 38 years with a 51-27 dual win over the Douglas Patriots.

February

Steve Baldwin, Freda Goodsell, Colleen Hennessy and Frank Leal were honored as part of the annual “Elders’ Wisdom, Children’s Song,”â��in which the honorees share their backgrounds and lives with children, who then make songs about the elders and sing them at a concert.

A wolf was killed near Custer, but officials weren’t saying where the wolf was killed, how it was killed or who killed it.

The Custer School District was looking at the prospect of having another deficit of $1 million as it began budget preparations for the coming year.

Concerned with losing business to Hill City, Hot Springs and Rapid City, a handful of Custer business owners spoke to the Custer City Council, asking for some relief—even if only temporary—from the city’s 10 percent markup on alcohol businesses with alcohol operating agreements with the city.

Custer High School principal Paul Anderson informed the Custer School District Board of Education the district was not in compliance with Title IX during the 2011-12 school year, as female participation in sports had dropped since the previous year.

Chasen Cole placed eighth in the 120-pound weight class at the South Dakota Class B State Wrestling Tournament.

Mary Bowen was named Custer VFW’s Teacher of the Year for the Custer School District.

Russell Behlings of Custer, along with partner Aaron Warner, placed first in the Western Regional Qualifying Tournament for the National Guard FLWâ��College Bass Fishing Series in Lake Havasu, Ariz. 

March

Custer City Council voted 5-1 to move vendors off N. 6th Street during Custer Cruisin’. The vendors were to be located on S. 6th St., between Mt. Rushmore Road and Washington Street, including some in the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce parking lot. A survey done by the chamber revealed city business owners wanted vendors to remain part of Custer Cruisin’ and not be moved off 6th Street.

The first year of a study of Custer State Park’s elk herd revealed that the reason for the dramatic decline in the herd’s population was caused primarily by mountain lion predation.

It was revealed Custer County had marked over 60,000 trees infested by the mountain pine beetle during the winter.

Federal Aviation Administration officials told Custer County officials they had no problem with the location of Southern Hills Tactical’s gun range near the Custer County Airport. Neighbors in the area had complained about the location of the range.

It was a packed house for the official dedication of the $4.1 million Custer County Courthouse addition March 20. Master of ceremonies and Custer County Commissioner Dave Hazeltine welcomed the crowd and introduced Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Jeff Davis. The judge gave a brief history of the courthouse and some of the colorful Custer County characters.

An especially dry spring led both the Custer County Commission and Custer City Council to institute fire bans, and also led to two small fires in the area.

The Apple Fire torched 546 acres of mostly Forest Service land before being contained after four days. The fire burned three miles southeast of Custer near Cicero Peak.

The Custer Cruisin’ Committee unanimously voted to give vendors a discount ranging from 10 to 30 percent due to the delayed response of applications and for the changing of vendor sites.

The Custer School District Board of Education voted to merge the middle school, cut over a dozen positions, reduce contracts and services and cut the soccer program as part of budget cuts due to an ongoing budget shortfall.

Jody Tennyson of Custer was one of the $10,000 winners in the March 30 drawing of Mega Millions. The jackpot reached a record $656 million. Tennyson bought her winning ticket at Big D.

April

The Custer County Commission was considering asking the city for more money when the city renewed its contract with the county for law enforcement services from the Custer County Sheriff’s Department.

Chad Bryant was named third-team All-State in Class A�Basketball.

Jake Harris-Raver, 18, was the final defendant sentenced in the “Operation Pharm School” drug bust that took place in February 2011.

The Custer High School prom was held at Crazy Horse Memorial, with the theme of “Footloose.”

A mountain lion killed a house cat in downtown Custer, crossing Mt. Rushmore Road near Custer True Value to do so.

The Custer Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Lunafest film festival and wellness fair at Custer High School. The mission of the Custer Lunafest was to promote awareness of local organizations that give women a voice, support and empowerment opportunities in all aspects of their life.

Custer High School senior Tyler Schultz broke the all-time South Dakota state shot put record with a throw of 69-5 3/4 at the Custer Invitational track meet. The throw beat the old record by 2-3/4 inches.

The Custer County Chronicle won both the General Excellence Award and the Sweepstakes Award as the most award-winning newspaper in its class at the annual South Dakota Newspaper Association’s Better Newspaper Contest. In addition, Custer County Chronicle publisher publisher Charley Najacht was voted SDNAâ��president.

May

Four conservation groups filed a petition with the U.S. Interior Department to list the black-backed woodpecker under the Endangered Species Act in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, the Sierra Nevada and Oregon’s Eastern Cascades. If successful, the petition could mean limited logging in post-fire and pine beetle habitat in the Black Hills National Forest.

A lightning strike was blamed for starting a fire that leveled a home outside of Hermosa. No one was at home at the time of the fire.

Jolene Bush was selected as the Custer School District’s Teacher of the Year.

The superintendents of Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park announced the two parks would cooperate in management of elk that use the parks. The parks share a common fence that restricts movement of elk between the two areas. Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the parks would install drop-down gates along the fence to allow elk to travel between the two parks.

Officials from the city, county and emergency services held a mock disaster exercise to prepare for a potential catastrophic fire in the Black Elk Wilderness Area.

“Freshman Impact: Caught in the Moment” was held at Custer High School. The day was filled with demonstrations and interactive activities that exposed students to the risks of impaired driving. The day ended with a mock accident, complete with a trial at the end of it.

The annual Custer Area Chamber of Commerce Spring Fling was held at the Game Lodge in Custer State Park. Winners included Trinity Rapp of Mt. Rushmore Telephone Co. for outstanding customer service, LaVonne Horn for Volunteer of the Year, Terri Flores for Outstanding Customer Service, Julie Brazell of Custer State Park for Extra Mile, Kelly Miller of Highmark Federal Credit Union for Extra Mile, Cheryl Schrier of Mount Rushmore for Extra Mile and Fred Baumann of the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce for Outstanding Customer Service.

Fifty-eight seniors graduated from Custer High School as the Class of 2012.

The Custer School District Board of Education was considering eliminating the position of rural school principal as part of the district’s ongoing budget cuts.

The Custer High School boys track team won the Black Hills Conference championship.

Custer City became an official “Tree City USA” and celebrated with a series of tree plantings around town.

Schultz led the Wildcat boys track team to the Region 8A team championship, and broke his own state record in the shot put with a throw of 70 feet, six inches.

The Custer County State’s Attorney’s office announced indictments were unsealed and arrest warrants issued for Henry J. Martens Jr, 27; and Timothy J. Burke, 46; both of Keystone, for two counts each of Hunting Big Game Without a License. The charges stemmed from the alleged illegal taking of two bull elk in Wind Cave National Park Jan. 30.

The Grand Magic Show debuted in Custer, with the show being performed for Custer business owners, employees and families.

The Custer High School boys track team placed second at the Class A State track meet, getting first place finishes from Schultz in the shot put and discus, Brennan Witt in the 800 and Clayton Wahlstrom in the pole vault. The girls team placed sixth, with championships from its medley relay team and Karley Konkol, who won both the 800 and 1600 on her way to being named the outstanding female athlete at the meet.

The 27th annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch took place under sunny skies, with a two-day turnout of 11,622 people, the largest turnout in over three years.

Sen. John Thune held a town hall meeting at the Custer Volunteer Fire Department, giving an overview of the financial situation in the U.S. and fielding questions from the audience.

June

A massive hailstorm hit Custer County, with pea-sized to tennis-ball-sized hail falling around Custer. The storm caused minor flooding and a great deal of damage, mostly just west of Custer.

The Custer Granite opened its 2012 season on its new home field with a pair of wins over Chadron, Neb., a team it had not defeated since its inception, a string of over 20 losses.

Tourism officials and local business owners reported a great start to the tourism season, with businesses reporting being up anywhere from 30 to over 100 percent compared to a year ago.

The South Dakota National Guard’s 28th annual Golden Coyote training exercise took place in Rapid City and the Southern Black Hills, with more than 2,200 service members participating from across the country and the world. 

It was learned that the city could spend up to $1 million on renovating the site the Custer City Center sits on.

A straight line wind hit Pringle during a thunderstorm, lifting the roof off a pole barn, uprooting trees and causing other damage. The wind was estimated to have been over 100 mph.

A 6- to 7-month-old emaciated mountain lion was killed in town. It was suspected the lion is the same one that killed a house cat in town in April.

A number of fires sprang up around Custer late in the month, including the White Draw Fire near Edgemont and the Highlands Fire in the Custer Highlands area. A C-130 plane based out of North Carolina that was fighting the White Draw Fire crashed, killing four of the crew members.

 



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